Jones-Sawyer’s Measure D Medical Cannabis Bill Headed to Governor’s Desk

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif., – Assembly Bill 2385, by Assembly Member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., has successfully passed out of both the California State Senate and State Assembly and is on its way to the Governor's desk.  If signed into law, the bill would approve the state licensure of various medical cannabis businesses in the City of Los Angeles. 

The City of Los Angeles failed multiple times to regulate medical cannabis, but finally in 2013 it passed Measure D-- a ballot measure that allowed 135 dispensaries, all of which had been in business since 2007, to remain open, while banning others.  This measure, however, did not actually permit those 135 dispensaries to operate — which legal experts said, at the time, the city could not do because cannabis remains illegal under federal law.  Measure D merely said the city would not prosecute those 135 dispensaries.

Under the 2015 enacted Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), also joint authored by Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer, California will start issuing licenses to medical cannabis businesses after January 1, 2018. MMRSA requires a license, permit or other authorization from a local jurisdiction in order to apply and receive a state license.

However, the state will only grant them to businesses with licenses or permits from their local jurisdictions. Because Los Angeles doesn't issue local licenses, medical cannabis businesses that include growers, testing labs and dispensaries in L.A. are not currently eligible for state licenses. 

"It was necessary to give proper direction to state agencies that will soon begin issuing state licenses to L.A. medical cannabis operators.  While medical cannabis is at the forefront of many discussions at the state level, the provisions of this bill do not circumvent local control," said Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer.

Since 2013, 716 non-compliant Measure D medical cannabis dispensaries have been closed across the City of Los Angeles. The City Attorney's Office has also filed 365 criminal cases against 1,444 defendants.  

AB 2385 seeks to protect these 135 Measure D-compliant dispensaries from future prosecution by allowing them to obtain a state issued medical cannabis license, provided they can demonstrate such compliance.